16 June 2015

Florence Part Trois

Our third day in Florence was super packed! We walked over 25,000 steps, almost 12 miles, and subsisted on a diet of gelato and McDonald's, but more on that later.

The first thing we did upon waking up Saturday morning was to get ready to catch the bus. We then caught said bus into the city center, arriving well ahead of our ticket time for the Uffizi Gallery. While waiting for our ticket time we went in search of the Vivoli Gelateria, a recommendation of my cousin Melea. I had googled the address and screen-shotted the map from the Uffizi so that we could dart over and grab some gelato. But we could not find it. So my friend, Alex, turned on her data on her smart phone and guided us to the Piazza Santa Maria Novella where google maps claimed that the Vivoli Gelateria resided. But there was nothing there called Vivoli, just a little, obscure gelateria. We went in (by this time it was perilously close to our ticket time for the Uffizi) and got some gelato. It was the best gelato I have had in my entire time in Italy! After the first bite I asked the lady behind the counter "Is this Vivoli?" She said yes. So I thought maybe we had stumbled across my cousin's recommendation. But after looking at the maps again I'm not sure it was the right one. Regardless, in attempting to follow Melea's advice I got the best gelato I've had thus far - so either way she's a genius. Thank you, Melea!

Tip #5 for Italy: When in Florence, ALWAYS eat the Biscotti flavor from the nameless gelato place in the Piazza Santa Maria Novella. It is, without question, the best flavor I have had thus far. It was also all I ate that morning besides some banana chips (Travel Tip #6: NEVER go touring around Florence, in 95 degree weather and nothing but gelato in your stomach - BAD idea). We ate on the go and arrived just in time for our ticket time to the Uffizi. The Gallery was amazing! Such lovely works of art by masters like Leonardo da Vinci (not everything he painted is in the Lourve or Milan!), El Greco and Botticelli. 
Random Roman Guy that I Liked


Annunciation by Botticelli

Birth of Venus by Botticelli

Medieval Painting

Another Random Roman Guy

El Greco Painting

Primavera by Bottecelli
It was very fun! We wandered around for over two hours, enjoying the art and feeling very cultured. Then we left and Alex separated from the group to find some coffee (wonderful idea in Florence, the espresso is to die for) and Hope, Natalie and I went in search of Santa Croce. After walking all over creation we were extremely miffed to find that Santa Croce was closed! It started raining as we walked back towards the Duomo, our chosen meeting place. In the Piazza Della Signoria (lovely replica statues there!)

We were separated from Natalie by another parade of people in medieval costumes:

I almost had a heart attack. She doesn't have a phone that works outside of WiFi and Hope and I looked and looked and could not find her. It was a terrible scare! Finally we decided to continue on towards the Duomo, where we were supposed to meet, and hope that she was able to make her way there. Beneath the shade of that glorious dome we met up again. It ended up being fine, but I had a minor nervous breakdown considering what would happen if I never found Natalie - not a pleasant half hour. 

We dropped off Hope with Alex so they could go to dinner and Natalie and I went on our merry way in search of The Oil Shoppe, another recommendation by my cousin, Melea. After about thirty minutes of fruitless searching (I am hopeless at directions, even my screen-shotted map did not help much) we found The Oil Shoppe. Keep in mind that at this point I had only eaten banana chips and gelato all day and have walked over 20,000 steps in the glaring sun with very little water because I did not want to pay a euro (or two!) to go to the bathroom (I would also like to again draw the reader's attention to Travel Tip #6...please learn from my mistakes). With my stomach growling in hunger, imagine my horror when I saw that The Oil Shoppe was already closed! It was awful! At this point Natalie and I decided that we were going to eat NOW! So we went to McDonald's and had a wonderful dinner with LOTS and LOTS of ketchup (for .25 euros each...robbery!) Then we went to the nameless gelato place in the Piazza Santa Maria Novella for the second time in one day...and I'm not even ashamed. That gelato is scrumptious:

We caught the bus back to Tuscany and that was the end of a long, tiring day touring Florence. Many emotional ups and downs, good gelato and beautiful art made it an unforgettable rollercoaster ride. The next day, Sunday, we made our way back to Castle Brunnenburg - home sweet home. I was so thankful to be back in the peaceful, cooler mountains. It's paradise up here! Florence was lovely, but there is nowhere in Italy so near and dear to my heart as South Tirol. The closeness I feel to the earth and to God in this stunning countryside takes my breath away. A fitting end to a long week, going to sleep, sweet sleep, on these sacred, steep slopes. My Florence adventure is at an end. More to come from Venice this weekend! Goodnight from Castle Brunnenburg. 

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